For instance, my first job was at Dairy Queen. I was 15. I never could do that little curlicue at the top of the cone perfectly, but I was able to perfect mistakes...edible mistakes.
"Oh, I'm sorry. You wanted a strawberry sundae and not a hot fudge sundae? Just a minute, I'll get rid of this hot fudge one and make you a strawberry one," and then I'd scuttle off to the walk-in freezer with the hot fudge-ice cream creation, so I could eat it later. (We were allowed to eat our mistakes, but I don't think we were supposed to deliberately make them. Every day.)
I worked a summer for the Youth Conservation Corps on an all-girl crew when I was 17, stringing barbed wire and digging post holes by hand. Once the caretaker killed a rattlesnake in the middle of the night as he walked some of us to the latrine (he hacked it to death with a shovel) , and told us, "Its mate will come looking for it." (I'm sure he was trying to scare us to get back at some of the stupid girls who flushed things down the toilet they were not supposed to flush.)
My first job out of high school was at a factory. I ran a machine that put together medicine capsules. The place stunk. If I pulled the two parts of the press together with too much force, the capsules would end up with poked-in spots, and they would have to discarded. There were many times I'd have to dump a whole tray of the capsules into the trashcan. That job only lasted a couple of weeks. (I ended up getting my finger caught in the press and cutting off the tip. After a trip to the emergency room, and making a mess of their press, they thought it was time for me to retire from that field.)
One of my
Interspersed here and there were waitressing jobs. I worked at some fairly-nice places (Steak and Ale, and Victoria Station) along with Denny's, but I was a gawk. Once, I spilled an entire Bloody Mary on a businessman there at Steak and Ale for a business lunch. (No tip for me that time!)
I've been a teacher since 1991, a teacher-consultant for the National Writing Project since 2001, and am now a freelance writer. In fact, I just heard this past weekend that a story of mine has made the first cut for the Not Your Mother's Book...On Family. (They're still looking at stories, as the deadline has not happened yet, and my story could be booted off before it hits the presses. But I'm keeping my fingers crossed.)
What important things have you learned while on your jobs? What was your favorite job or your most unfavorite job (and why)? Come on...take a trip down memory lane, and take us along with you.